Commercial Pet Food –
What’s In That Bag
If you think for a moment… cats and dogs didn’t always eat from a bag or can.
Prior to the 1950’s (when commercial pet food became more the norm), family pets were fed meat and table scraps… “people food ”.
Today pet care sales are in the neighborhood of $28 Billion a year.
Watching pet food commercials you’d definitely think dogs and cats need
specially formulated, mysterious “pet food”.
But then – oddly enough – the commercials also imply the more human like the pet food is, the superior it is.
So what’s the deal?
Well, dogs and cats – like humans – need protein, fat and carbohydrates
(but in different proportions).
Dogs and cats – like humans – shouldn’t have chemicals mixed in with their foods.
The first point – protein, fat and carbohydrates – we’ll set aside for another article. The second point – chemicals – we’ll talk about here.
First you should understand that pet food is not regulated like human food is. So you can’t assume a certain level of safety that you expect with people food.
Animal food is regulated (sort of) by the FDA via the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The CVM regulates animal feed products including medicated feed, food additives and animal drugs… primarily livestock stuff.
The FDA “partners” with AAFCO – the American Association of Feed Control Officials – to satisfy it’s mandate for pet food. AAFCO is a private advisory board which includes some government agencies and a number of pet food manufacturers.
Any packaged food will have preservatives basically to prevent it from quickly
spoiling. Most of the dangerous chemicals found in a lot of pet foods are
preservatives. While they do extend the shelf life of the food, they may shorten the life of your pet.
Let’s look at a few.
BHA – Butylated Hydroxyanisole and the related
compound BHT – Butylated Hydroxytoluene are used to preserve
fats from breaking down and going rancid.
BHA is suspected to cause hyperactivity, liver damage and stomach cancer.
BHT is suspected to cause liver damage and thyroid and bladder cancer.
Ethoxyquin is used to preserve fats and is also used as a
pesticide. The FDA does not allow the use of Ethoxyquin in human food, but does allow
it in pet food. Hmmm.
They did – in 1997 – request a VOLUNTARY decrease in the amount used.
According to studies Ethoxyquin has been found to increase kidney, stomach and bladder cancer. It’s also been linked to autoimmune diseases.
Some pet food manufacturers simply list “E” on the ingredient label. You don’t think they’re trying to imply the food contains Vitamin E rather than Ethoxyquin do you?
Propyl Gallate is another fat and oil preservative. It’s linked to allergic reaction, stomach and skin irritation and kidney and liver disease.
Propylene Glycol is also a preservative. It’s been linked to liver abnormalities and kidney damage. Additionally, cats tend to get addicted to food with Propylene Glycol.
What are some good preservatives?
Vitamin E, Tocopherols and Vitamin C are the most common non-chemical preservatives.
Rosemary extract is also a preservative which you might find in some of the natural/ organic pet foods.
Before grabbing that next bag or can of pet food and heading to the check out counter, flip it over and scan through the ingredient list. Know what you’re feeding your companion.
Pets – like people – have basic nutritional needs. They can survive
eating poor quality food. But there’s a cost…
Generally their health will be compromised and their life shortened.
Natural Dog and Cat Care 101 explains the nutritional requirements of cats and dogs, the short comings of popular commercial food products and how to read ingredient labels.